Nutrition During Cancer Therapy
As you are undergoing treatment, you may have concerns regarding your diet, for example : Am I eating enough to meet my nutritional needs? Should I be eating special foods? Some people may also try to convince you that cancer can be cured by eating, or not eating, particular foods. So, it is not surprising if you are not sure about what to eat.
Some of the more commonly asked questions regarding food and cancer therapy are compiled here. We hope that this information will be helpful to you and provide answers to some of the questions you have regarding food and cancer.
Are you wondering…
What Difference Does Nutrition Make To My Treatment?
Nutrition is an important part of your cancer treatment plan. Eating well during treatment will help you to:
- Prevent or reverse weight loss
- Fight infections more easily
- Tolerate any side effects of your treatment more readily
- Recover as quickly as possible from your treatment
- Feel stronger and more energetic
What Should I Eat To Ensure Good Nutrition?
The key to ensuring good nutrition is by having a balanced diet. Rice and alternatives should be eaten in the largest amount, followed by fruits and vegetables, then meat and alternatives. High energy foods like cake and kueh, can be eaten as dessert or as snacks in-between meals to boost energy intake.
In general, a healthy balanced diet should be sufficient for you to maintain good nutritional status. However, you may need to modify it when you encounter nutrition-related problems during your treatment. Examples of side-effects that can be helped through dietary changes include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bloatedness and wind
- Taste changes
- Mouth and throat problems
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
What If I Just Don't Feel Like Eating?
When you have loss of appetite or when you are unable to eat solid foods (e.g. sore mouth, nausea and vomiting), you may find nutritional supplements a useful and convenient form of nutrients. These can be taken instead of meals, or in-between meals to boost energy intake. Commonly available nutritional supplements include Enercal Plus, Ensure Life, Resource, Isocal. They can be drunk on their own, or used like milk in jellies, Milo, coffee or tea.
Do I Need To Eat Special Foods, Or Do I Need To Avoid Eating Certain Foods?
Currently, there is no evidence to support claims that certain foods can cure cancer, or that particular foods will make your condition worse. So, there is no need to eat, or avoid eating, any particular foods.
Be careful about special diets that claim to cure cancer - especially those that restrict your intake of many foods. They can lead to an imbalance of nutrients, causing other health problems.
Is There A Place For Traditional Foods?
Traditional foods (eg. bird's nest, red dates, ginseng) will not do you any harm when taken in moderation with a balanced diet. However, check with your doctor before taking medicinal herbs or traditional medicines as these may interfere with your treatment.
Your dietitian can help you to:
- Modify your usual diet to suit your current needs
- Choose appropriate nutritional supplements as needed
- Evaluate special diets and food products
- Stay within recommended safe limits if you are taking vitamin and mineral supplements
Remember, you can actively participate in your own treatment through good nutrition - so, make food your ally to enhance your health and body resistance, as well as to help you cope better with any side effects of treatment.